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Monitoring Soviet tests.

Monitoring Soviet tests

For the first time, American scientists have begun monitoring seismic waves near a nuclear weapons test site in the Soviet Union, the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council reported last week. U.S. seismologists are already setting up two monitoring sites and are looking for a third site, each about 200 kilometers from the nuclear test area near Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. Surface seismometers -- and, if the U.S. government approves their "export" to the USSR, sensitive deephole detectors -- will help detect nuclear explosions and possibly bring the superpowers closer to a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing.

But, says seismologist Thomas Bache, who has conducted related research for Science Applications International in San Diego, the experiment is "a bit of a red herring. It doesn't address the... issues we're most concerned with." Central among those issues, he says, is the geological makeup of the ground under the test site itself, information crucial to identifying explosions and the size of the devices creating them (SN:10/26/85,p.268; 11/2/85, p.282).

If the monitors remain in place for several years and if the data they collect are untainted and of high quality, Bache adds, the information could prove useful to seismologists. "It's scientifically not a bad experiment," he says, "but it's limited."
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Title Annotation:nuclear weapons tests
Author:Kleist, Trina
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 26, 1986
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